The Provincial Letters, by Blaise Pascal

Letter XII


September 9, 1656


I was prepared to write you on the subject of the abuse with which you have for some time past been assailing me in your publications, in which you salute me with such epithets as “reprobate,” “buffoon,” “blockhead,” “merry — Andrew,” “impostor,” “slanderer,” “cheat,” “heretic,” “Calvinist in disguise,” “disciple of Du Moulin,” “possessed with a legion of devils,” and everything else you can think of. As I should be sorry to have all this believed of me, I was anxious to show the public why you treated me in this manner; and I had resolved to complain of your calumnies and falsifications, when I met with your Answers, in which you bring these same charges against myself. This will compel me to alter my plan; though it will not prevent me from prosecuting it in some sort, for I hope, while defending myself, to convict you of impostures more genuine than the imaginary ones which you have ascribed to me. Indeed, fathers, the suspicion of foul play is much more sure to rest on you than on me. It is not very likely, standing as I do, alone, without power or any human defence against such a large body, and having no support but truth and integrity, that I would expose myself to lose everything by laying myself open to be convicted of imposture. It is too easy to discover falsifications in matters of fact such as the present. In such a case there would have been no want of persons to accuse me, nor would justice have been denied them. With you, fathers, the case is very different; you may say as much as you please against me, while I may look in vain for any to complain to. With such a wide difference between our positions, though there had been no other consideration to restrain me, it became me to study no little caution. By treating me, however, as a common slanderer, you compel me to assume the defensive, and you must be aware that this cannot be done without entering into a fresh exposition and even into a fuller disclosure of the points of your morality. In provoking this discussion, I fear you are not acting as good politicians. The war must be waged within your own camp and at your own expense; and, although you imagine that, by embroiling the questions with scholastic terms, the answers will be so tedious, thorny, and obscure, that people will lose all relish for the controversy, this may not, perhaps, turn out to be exactly the case; I shall use my best endeavours to tax your patience as little as possible with that sort of writing. Your maxims have something diverting about them, which keeps up the good humour of people to the last. At all events, remember that it is you that oblige me to enter upon this eclaircissement, and let us see which of us comes off best in self-defence.

The first of your Impostures, as you call them, is on the opinion of Vasquez upon alms-giving. To avoid all ambiguity, then, allow me to give a simple explanation of the matter in dispute. It is well known, fathers, that, according to the mind of the Church, there are two precepts touching alms: 1st, “To give out of our superfluity in the case of the ordinary necessities of the poor”; and 2nd, “To give even out of our necessaries, according to our circumstances, in cases of extreme necessity.” Thus says Cajetan, after St. Thomas; so that, to get at the mind of Vasquez on this subject, we must consider the rules he lays down, both in regard to necessaries and superfluities.

With regard to superfluity, which is the most common source of relief to the poor, it is entirely set aside by that single maxim which I have quoted in my Letters: “That what the men of the world keep with the view of improving their own condition, and that of their relatives, is not properly superfluity; so that such a thing as superfluity is rarely to be met with among men of the world, not even excepting kings.” It is very easy to see, fathers, that, according to this definition, none can have superfluity, provided they have ambition; and thus, so far as the greater part of the world is concerned, alms-giving is annihilated. But even though a man should happen to have superfluity, he would be under no obligation, according to Vasquez, to give it away in the case of ordinary necessity; for he protests against those who would thus bind the rich. Here are his own words: “Corduba,” says he, “teaches that when we have a superfluity we are bound to give out of it in cases of ordinary necessity; but this does not please me — sed hoc non placet — for we have demonstrated the contrary against Cajetan and Navarre.” So, fathers, the obligation to this kind of alms is wholly set aside, according to the good pleasure of Vasquez.

With regard to necessaries, out of which we are bound to give in cases of extreme and urgent necessity, it must be obvious, from the conditions by which he has limited the obligation, the richest man in all Paris may not come within its reach one in a lifetime. I shall only refer to two of these. The first is: That “we must know that the poor man cannot be relieved from any other quarter — haec intelligo et caetera omnia, quando SCIO nullum alium opem laturum.” What say you to this, fathers? Is it likely to happen frequently in Paris, where there are so many charitable people, that I must know that there is not another soul but myself to relieve the poor wretch who begs an alms from me? And yet, according to Vasquez, if I have not ascertained that fact, I may send him away with nothing. The second condition is: That the poor man be reduced to such straits “that he is menaced with some fatal accident, or the ruin of his character”— none of them very common occurrences. But what marks still more the rarity of the cases in which one is bound to give charity, is his remark, in another passage, that the poor man must be so ill off, “that he may conscientiously rob the rich man!” This must surely be a very extraordinary case, unless he will insist that a man may be ordinarily allowed to commit robbery. And so, after having cancelled the obligation to give alms out of our superfluities, he obliges the rich to relieve the poor only in those cases when he would allow the poor to rifle the rich! Such is the doctrine of Vasquez, to whom you refer your readers for their edification!

I now come to your pretended Impostures. You begin by enlarging on the obligation to alms-giving which Vasquez imposes on ecclesiastics. But on this point I have said nothing; and I am prepared to take it up whenever you choose. This, then, has nothing to do with the present question. As for laymen, who are the only persons with whom we have now to do, you are apparently anxious to have it understood that, in the passage which I quoted, Vasquez is giving not his own judgement, but that of Cajetan. But as nothing could be more false than this, and as you have not said it in so many terms, I am willing to believe, for the sake of your character, that you did not intend to say it.

You next loudly complain that, after quoting that maxim of Vasquez, “Such a thing as superfluity is rarely if ever to be met with among men of the world, not excepting kings,” I have inferred from it, “that the rich are rarely, if ever, bound to give alms out of their superfluity.” But what do you mean to say, fathers? If it be true that the rich have almost never superfluity, is it not obvious that they will almost never be bound to give alms out of their superfluity? I might have put it into the form of a syllogism for you, if Diana, who has such an esteem for Vasquez that he calls him “the phoenix of genius,” had not drawn the same conclusion from the same premisses; for, after quoting the maxim of Vasquez, he concludes, “that, with regard to the question, whether the rich are obliged to give alms out of their superfluity, though the affirmation were true, it would seldom, or almost never, happen to be obligatory in practice.” I have followed this language word for word. What, then, are we to make of this, fathers? When Diana quotes with approbation the sentiments of Vasquez, when he finds them probable, and “very convenient for rich people,” as he says in the same place, he is no slanderer, no falsifier, and we hear no complaints of misrepresenting his author; whereas, when I cite the same sentiments of Vasquez, though without holding him up as a phoenix, I am a slanderer, a fabricator, a corrupter of his maxims. Truly, fathers, you have some reason to be apprehensive, lest your very different treatment of those who agree in their representation, and differ only in their estimate of your doctrine, discover the real secret of your hearts and provoke the conclusion that the main object you have in view is to maintain the credit and glory of your Company. It appears that, provided your accommodating theology is treated as judicious complaisance, you never disavow those that publish it, but laud them as contributing to your design; but let it be held forth as pernicious laxity, and the same interest of your Society prompts you to disclaim the maxims which would injure you in public estimation. And thus you recognize or renounce them, not according to the truth, which never changes, but according to the shifting exigencies of the times, acting on that motto of one of the ancients, “Omnia pro tempore, nihil pro veritate — Anything for the times, nothing for the truth.” Beware of this, fathers; and that you may never have it in your power again to say that I drew from the principle of Vasquez a conclusion which he had disavowed, I beg to inform you that he has drawn it himself: “According to the opinion of Cajetan, and according to my own — et secundum nostram —(he says, chap. i., no. 27), one is hardly obliged to give alms at all when one is only obliged to give them out of one’s superfluity.” Confess then, fathers, on the testimony of Vasquez himself, that I have exactly copied his sentiment; and think how you could have the conscience to say that “the reader, on consulting the original, would see to his astonishment that he there teaches the very reverse!”

In fine, you insist, above all, that if Vasquez does not bind the rich to give alms out of their superfluity, he obliges them to atone for this by giving out of the necessaries of life. But you have forgotten to mention the list of conditions which he declares to be essential to constitute that obligation, which I have quoted, and which restrict it in such a way as almost entirely to annihilate it. In place of giving this honest statement of his doctrine, you tell us, in general terms, that he obliges the rich to give even what is necessary to their condition. This is proving too much, fathers; the rule of the Gospel does not go so far; and it would be an error, into which Vasquez is very far, indeed, from having fallen. To cover his laxity, you attribute to him an excess of severity which would be reprehensible; and thus you lose all credit as faithful reporters of his sentiments. But the truth is, Vasquez is quite free from any such suspicion; for he has maintained, as I have shown, that the rich are not bound, either in justice or in charity, to give of their superfluities, and still less of their necessaries, to relieve the ordinary wants of the poor; and that they are not obliged to give of the necessaries, except in cases so rare that they almost never happen.

Having disposed of your objections against me on this head, it only remains to show the falsehood of your assertion that Vasquez is more severe than Cajetan. This will by very easily done. That cardinal teaches “that we are bound in justice to give alms out of our superfluity, even in the ordinary wants of the poor; because, according to the holy fathers, the rich are merely the dispensers of their superfluity, which they are to give to whom they please, among those who have need of it.” And accordingly, unlike Diana, who says of the maxims of Vasquez that they will be “very convenient and agreeable to the rich and their confessors,” the cardinal, who has no such consolation to afford them, declares that he has nothing to say to the rich but these words of Jesus Christ: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into heaven”; and to their confessors: “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” So indispensable did he deem this obligation! This, too, is what the fathers and all the saints have laid down as a certain truth. “There are two cases,” says St. Thomas, “in which we are bound to give alms as a matter of justice — ex debito legali: one, when the poor are in danger; the other, when we possess superfluous property.” And again: “The three-tenths which the Jews were bound to eat with the poor, have been augmented under the new law; for Jesus Christ wills that we give to the poor, not the tenth only, but the whole of our superfluity.” And yet it does not seem good to Vasquez that we should be obliged to give even a fragment of our superfluity; such is his complaisance to the rich, such his hardness to the poor, such his opposition to those feelings of charity which teach us to relish the truth contained in the following words of St. Gregory, harsh as it may sound to the rich of this world: “When we give the poor what is necessary to them, we are not so much bestowing on them what is our property as rendering to them what is their own; and it may be said to be an act of justice rather than a work of mercy.”

It is thus that the saints recommend the rich to share with the poor the good things of this earth, if they would expect to possess with them the good things of heaven. While you make it your business to foster in the breasts of men that ambition which leaves no superfluity to dispose of, and that avarice which refuses to part with it, the saints have laboured to induce the rich to give up their superfluity, and to convince them that they would have abundance of it, provided they measured it, not by the standard of covetousness, which knows no bounds to its cravings, but by that of piety, which is ingenious in retrenchments, so as to have wherewith to diffuse itself in the exercise of charity. “We will have a great deal of superfluity,” says St. Augustine, “if we keep only what is necessary: but if we seek after vanities, we will never have enough. Seek, brethren, what is sufficient for the work of God”— that is, for nature —“and not for what is sufficient for your covetousness,” which is the work of the devil: “and remember that the superfluities of the rich are the necessaries of the poor.”

I would fondly trust, fathers, that what I have now said to you may serve, not only for my vindication — that were a small matter — but also to make you feel and detest what is corrupt in the maxims of your casuists, and thus unite us sincerely under the sacred rules of the Gospel, according to which we must all be judged.

As to the second point, which regards simony, before proceeding to answer the charges you have advanced against me, I shall begin by illustrating your doctrine on this subject. Finding yourselves placed in an awkward dilemma, between the canons of the Church, which impose dreadful penalties upon simoniacs, on the one hand, and the avarice of many who pursue this infamous traffic on the other, you have recourse to your ordinary method, which is to yield to men what they desire, and give the Almighty only words and shows. For what else does the simoniac want but money in return for his benefice? And yet this is what you exempt from the charge of simony. And as the name of simony must still remain standing, and a subject to which it may be ascribed, you have substituted, in the place of this, an imaginary idea, which never yet crossed the brain of a simoniac, and would not serve him much though it did — the idea, namely, that simony lies in estimating the money considered in itself as highly as the spiritual gift or office considered in itself. Who would ever take it into his head to compare things so utterly disproportionate and heterogeneous? And yet, provided this metaphysical comparison be not drawn, any one may, according to your authors, give away a benefice, and receive money in return for it, without being guilty of simony.

Such is the way in which you sport with religion, in order to gratify the worst passions of men; and yet only see with what gravity your Father Valentia delivers his rhapsodies in the passage cited in my letters. He says: “One may give a spiritual for a temporal good in two ways — first, in the way of prizing the temporal more than the spiritual, and that would be simony; secondly, in the way of taking the temporal as the motive and end inducing one to give away the spiritual, but without prizing the temporal more than the spiritual, and then it is not simony. And the reason is that simony consists in receiving something temporal as the just price of what is spiritual. If, therefore, the temporal is sought — si petatur temporale — not as the price, but only as the motive determining us to part with the spiritual, it is by no means simony, even although the possession of the temporal may be principally intended and expected — minime erit simonia, etiamsi temporale principaliter intendatur et expectetur.” Your redoubtable Sanchez has been favoured with a similar revelation; Escobar quotes him thus: “If one give a spiritual for a temporal good, not as the price, but as a motive to induce the collator to give it, or as an acknowledgement if the benefice has been actually received, is that simony? Sanchez assures us that it is not.” In your Caen Theses of 1644 you say: “It is a probable opinion, taught by many Catholics, that it is not simony to exchange a temporal for a spiritual good, when the former is not given as a price.” And as to Tanner, here is his doctrine, exactly the same with that of Valentia; and I quote it again to show you how far wrong it is in you to complain of me for saying that it does not agree with that of St. Thomas, for he avows it himself in the very passage which I quoted in my letter: “There is properly and truly no simony,” says he, “unless when a temporal good is taken as the price of a spiritual; but when taken merely as the motive for giving the spiritual, or as an acknowledgement for having received it, this is not simony, at least in point of conscience.” And again: “The same thing may be said, although the temporal should be regarded as the principal end, and even preferred to the spiritual; although St. Thomas and others appear to hold the reverse, inasmuch as they maintain it to be downright simony to exchange a spiritual for a temporal good, when the temporal is the end of the transaction.”

Such, then, being your doctrine on simony, as taught by your best authors, who follow each other very closely in this point, it only remains now to reply to your charges of misrepresentation. You have taken no notice of Valentia’s opinion, so that his doctrine stands as it was before. But you fix on that of Tanner, maintaining that he has merely decided it to be no simony by divine right; and you would have it to be believed that, in quoting the passage, I have suppressed these words, divine right. This, fathers, is a most unconscionable trick; for these words, divine right, never existed in that passage. You add that Tanner declares it to be simony according to positive right. But you are mistaken; he does not say that generally, but only of particular cases, or, as he expresses it, in casibus a jure expressis, by which he makes an exception to the general rule he had laid down in that passage, “that it is not simony in point of conscience,” which must imply that it is not so in point of positive right, unless you would have Tanner made so impious as to maintain that simony, in point of positive right, is not simony in point of conscience. But it is easy to see your drift in mustering up such terms as “divine right, positive right, natural right, internal and external tribunal, expressed cases, outward presumption,” and others equally little known; you mean to escape under this obscurity of language, and make us lose sight of your aberrations. But, fathers, you shall not escape by these vain artifices; for I shall put some questions to you so simple, that they will not admit of coming under your distinguo.

I ask you, then, without speaking of “positive rights,” of “outward presumptions,” or “external tribunals”— I ask if, according to your authors, a beneficiary would be simoniacal, were he to give a benefice worth four thousand livres of yearly rent, and to receive ten thousand francs ready money, not as the price of the benefice, but merely as a motive inducing him to give it? Answer me plainly, fathers: What must we make of such a case as this according to your authors? Will not Tanner tell us decidedly that “this is not simony in point of conscience, seeing that the temporal good is not the price of the benefice, but only the motive inducing to dispose of it?” Will not Valentia, will not your own Theses of Caen, will not Sanchez and Escobar, agree in the same decision and give the same reason for it? Is anything more necessary to exculpate that beneficiary from simony? And, whatever might be your private opinion of the case, durst you deal with that man as a simonist in your confessionals, when he would be entitled to stop your mouth by telling you that he acted according to the advice of so many grave doctors? Confess candidly, then, that, according to your views, that man would be no simonist; and, having done so, defend the doctrine as you best can.

Such, fathers, is the true mode of treating questions, in order to unravel, instead of perplexing them, either by scholastic terms, or, as you have done in your last charge against me here, by altering the state of the question. Tanner, you say, has, at any rate, declared that such an exchange is a great sin; and you blame me for having maliciously suppressed this circumstance, which, you maintain, “completely justifies him.” But you are wrong again, and that in more ways than one. For, first, though what you say had been true, it would be nothing to the point, the question in the passage to which I referred being, not if it was sin, but if it was simony. Now, these are two very different questions. Sin, according to your maxims, obliges only to confession — simony obliges to restitution; and there are people to whom these may appear two very different things. You have found expedients for making confession a very easy affair; but you have not fallen upon ways and means to make restitution an agreeable one. Allow me to add that the case which Tanner charges with sin is not simply that in which a spiritual good is exchanged for a temporal, the latter being the principal end in view, but that in which the party “prizes the temporal above the spiritual,” which is the imaginary case already spoken of. And it must be allowed he could not go far wrong in charging such a case as that with sin, since that man must be either very wicked or very stupid who, when permitted to exchange the one thing for the other, would not avoid the sin of the transaction by such a simple process as that of abstaining from comparing the two things together. Besides, Valentia, in the place quoted, when treating the question — if it be sinful to give a spiritual good for a temporal, the latter being the main consideration — and after producing the reasons given for the affirmative, adds, “Sed hoc non videtur mihi satis certum — But this does not appear to my mind sufficiently certain.”

Since that time, however, your father, Erade Bille, professor of cases of conscience at Caen, has decided that there is no sin at all in the case supposed; for probable opinions, you know, are always in the way of advancing to maturity. This opinion he maintains in his writings of 1644, against which M. Dupre, doctor and professor at Caen, delivered that excellent oration, since printed and well known. For though this Erade Bille confesses that Valentia’s doctrine, adopted by Father Milhard and condemned by the Sorbonne, “is contrary to the common opinion, suspected of simony, and punishable at law when discovered in practice,” he does not scruple to say that it is a probable opinion, and consequently sure in point of conscience, and that there is neither simony nor sin in it. “It is a probable opinion, he says, “taught by many Catholic doctors, that there is neither any simony nor any sin in giving money, or any other temporal thing, for a benefice, either in the way of acknowledgement, or as a motive, without which it would not be given, provided it is not given as a price equal to the benefice.” This is all that could possibly be desired. In fact, according to these maxims of yours, simony would be so exceedingly rare that we might exempt from this sin even Simon Magus himself, who desired to purchase the Holy Spirit and is the emblem of those simonists that buy spiritual things; and Gehazi, who took money for a miracle and may be regarded as the prototype of the simonists that sell them. There can be no doubt that when Simon, as we read in the Acts, “offered the apostles money, saying, Give me also this power”; he said nothing about buying or selling, or fixing the price; he did no more than offer the money as a motive to induce them to give him that spiritual gift; which being, according to you, no simony at all, he might, had be but been instructed in your maxims, have escaped the anathema of St. Peter. The same unhappy ignorance was a great loss to Gehazi, when he was struck with leprosy by Elisha; for, as he accepted the money from the prince who had been miraculously cured, simply as an acknowledgement, and not as a price equivalent to the divine virtue which had effected the miracle, he might have insisted on the prophet healing him again on pain of mortal sin; seeing, on this supposition, he would have acted according to the advice of your grave doctors, who, in such cases, oblige confessors to absolve their penitents and to wash them from that spiritual leprosy of which the bodily disease is the type.

Seriously, fathers, it would be extremely easy to hold you up to ridicule in this matter, and I am at a loss to know why you expose yourselves to such treatment. To produce this effect, I have nothing more to do than simply to quote Escobar, in his Practice of Simony according to the Society of Jesus; “Is it simony when two Churchmen become mutually pledged thus: Give me your vote for my election as Provincial, and I shall give you mine for your election as prior? By no means.” Or take another: “It is not simony to get possession of a benefice by promising a sum of money, when one has no intention of actually paying the money; for this is merely making a show of simony, and is as far from being real simony as counterfeit gold is from the genuine.” By this quirk of conscience, he has contrived means, in the way of adding swindling to simony, for obtaining benefices without simony and without money.

But I have no time to dwell longer on the subject, for I must say a word or two in reply to your third accusation, which refers to the subject of bankrupts. Nothing can be more gross than the manner in which you have managed this charge. You rail at me as a libeller in reference to a sentiment of Lessius, which I did not quote myself, but took from a passage in Escobar; and, therefore, though it were true that Lessius does not hold the opinion ascribed to him by Escobar, what can be more unfair than to charge me with the misrepresentation? When I quote Lessius or others of your authors myself, I am quite prepared to answer for it; but, as Escobar has collected the opinions of twenty-four of your writers, I beg to ask if I am bound to guarantee anything beyond the correctness of my citations from his book? Or if I must, in addition, answer for the fidelity of all his quotations of which I may avail myself? This would be hardly reasonable; and yet this is precisely the case in the question before us. I produced in my letter the following passage from Escobar, and you do not object to the fidelity of my translation: “May the bankrupt, with a good conscience, retain as much of his property as is necessary to afford him an honourable maintenance — ne indecore vivat? I answer, with Lessius, that he may — cum Lessio assero posse.” You tell me that Lessius does not hold that opinion. But just consider for a moment the predicament in which you involve yourselves. If it turns out that he does hold that opinion, you will be set down as impostors for having asserted the contrary; and if it is proved that he does not hold it, Escobar will be the impostor; so it must now of necessity follow that one or other of the Society will be convicted of imposture. Only think what a scandal! You cannot, it would appear, foresee the consequences of things. You seem to imagine that you have nothing more to do than to cast aspersions upon people, without considering on whom they may recoil. Why did you not acquaint Escobar with your objection before venturing to publish it? He might have given you satisfaction. It is not so very troublesome to get word from Valladolid, where he is living in perfect health, and completing his grand work on Moral Theology, in six volumes, on the first of which I mean to say a few words by-and-by. They have sent him the first ten letters; you might as easily have sent him your objection, and I am sure he would have soon returned you an answer, for he has doubtless seen in Lessius the passage from which he took the ne indecore vivat. Read him yourselves, fathers, and you will find it word for word, as I have done. Here it is: “The same thing is apparent from the authorities cited, particularly in regard to that property which he acquires after his failure, out of which even the delinquent debtor may retain as much as is necessary for his honourable maintenance, according to his station of life — ut non indecore vivat. Do you ask if this rule applies to goods which he possessed at the time of his failure? Such seems to be the judgement of the doctors.”

I shall not stop here to show how Lessius, to sanction his maxim, perverts the law that allows bankrupts nothing more than a mere livelihood, and that makes no provision for “honourable maintenance.” It is enough to have vindicated Escobar from such an accusation — it is more, indeed, than what I was in duty bound to do. But you, fathers, have not done your duty. It still remains for you to answer the passage of Escobar, whose decisions, by the way, have this advantage, that, being entirely independent of the context and condensed in little articles, they are not liable to your distinctions. I quoted the whole of the passage, in which “bankrupts are permitted to keep their goods, though unjustly acquired, to provide an honourable maintenance for their families”— commenting on which in my letters, I exclaim: “Indeed, father! by what strange kind of charity would you have the ill-gotten property of a bankrupt appropriated to his own use, instead of that of his lawful creditors?” This is the question which must be answered; but it is one that involves you in a sad dilemma, and from which you in vain seek to escape by altering the state of the question, and quoting other passages from Lessius, which have no connection with the subject. I ask you, then: May this maxim of Escobar be followed by bankrupts with a safe conscience, or no? And take care what you say. If you answer, “No,” what becomes of your doctor, and your doctrine of probability? If you say, “Yes,” I delate you to the Parliament.

In this predicament I must now leave you, fathers; for my limits will not permit me to overtake your next accusation, which respects homicide. This will serve for my next letter, and the rest will follow.

In the meanwhile, I shall make no remarks on the advertisements which you have tagged to the end of each of your charges, filled as they are with scandalous falsehoods. I mean to answer all these in a separate letter, in which I hope to show the weight due to your calumnies. I am sorry, fathers, that you should have recourse to such desperate resources. The abusive terms which you heap on me will not clear up our disputes, nor will your manifold threats hinder me from defending myself You think you have power and impunity on your side; and I think I have truth and innocence on mine. It is a strange and tedious war when violence attempts to vanquish truth. All the efforts of violence cannot weaken truth, and only serve to give it fresh vigour. All the lights of truth cannot arrest violence, and only serve to exasperate it. When force meets force, the weaker must succumb to the stronger; when argument is opposed to argument, the solid and the convincing triumphs over the empty and the false; but violence and verity can make no impression on each other. Let none suppose, however, that the two are, therefore, equal to each other; for there is this vast difference between them, that violence has only a certain course to run, limited by the appointment of Heaven, which overrules its effects to the glory of the truth which it assails; whereas verity endures forever and eventually triumphs over its enemies, being eternal and almighty as God himself.

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